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Garry Kasparov Arrested By Russian Police (rian.ru)
238 points by neya on Aug 18, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 154 comments

"Breaking news! Corruption and totalitarianism of the Russian government, KGB and orthodox church exposed by the unimaginable injustice dealt to the members of the Pussy Riot and undisputed chess champion Gary Kasparov"

Anyways, here's what I was motivated to write in an earlier post on this topic:

Why isn't Madonna or these other outraged people protesting over the 32 miners killed in South Africa? I understand 3 years (or is it 2?) is a tough punishment for what is basically vandalism by western standards (although I'm sure we can find examples or worse injustices in any of the western judicial systems). The organized and overblown reaction to all of this is much more about ruining Russia's reputation as a democratic nation than anything else. I've actually heard the nightly news-anchor here in Canada report on "International condemnation" of the sentencing. Are you fucking kidding me? Miners being gunned down for protesting in South Africa, Omahr Khadr still sitting in Guantanamo for something he might've been involved when he was 16, all the Wikileaks shit from Iraq Afghanistan... and the Pussy Riot going for a 2 year stint for vandalism is causing "international condemnation"?! If anything's made me aware of how alive the cold war is, this is it.

Also this: I don't want to be misunderstood.. I'm in favour of Kasparov and the Pussy Riot doing what they're doing and fighting for a better government in Russia... as anyone should be doing for their country! But I am just irritated by the "better than thou" indignations echoed in media channels of the equally unjust western world that tends to ignore massive wrongdoings that are too inconvenient to the larger narrative.

I don't get it. Each time somebody protests some injustice or evil happening somewhere, some people couldn't find anything better to do but chime in with "why you protest X but not Y? if you don't protest every single injustice I want you to protest, you must be a hypocrite!" Come on people, how it even makes sense to you? Who on earth could live up to this impossible standard of protesting every single injustice?

It makes it only worse that your other demands of condemnations are full of factual inaccuracies - Omahr Khadr is sitting in Gitmo not for "something he might've been involved" but for, among other terrorist activities, murdering an American - Sergeant Christopher James Speer, to which he admitted and plead guilty. Pussy Riot had nothing to do with vandalism and weren't accused of vandalism. Western world is not "equally unjust" as nobody is imprisoned for 2 years for protesting the head of state. The press is not "ignoring" any of the issues you raised - Wikileaks revelations, Gitmo prisoners and other events are extensively discussed in the press and nobody is being imprisoned for doing so.

It is a classical Russian propaganda defense: answer an accusation on human rights violations with "and you are lynching Negroes" or similar.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_you_are_lynching_Negroes , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque

Kremlin is paying bloggers and commenters in Russia to post positive things about authorities:

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/06/10/russia-networks-of-... , http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/07/hacked-emails-na...

Russian authorities may also be paying or employing some users of HN.

That's how I get it. I was expecting to find the "lynching Negroes" comment upvoted high by just seeing the title. It does not mean that the user who posted it is employed by Kremlin, but you know, the message will be upvoted...

In case of Pussy Riot there are no human rights violations, actually. They are jailed not for singing an anti-Pitin song, but for a 'hate speech' crime. They were screaming profanities in a church which scared, offended and upset some believers.

Would you believe that Pussy Riot would be allowed to sing an anti-Putin song in the Red Square and get away with it?

In fact, that's what they did on 20th January 2012. On the Red Square in broad daylight they played a nicely rousing song about 'KGB bitches' and 'Putin who is pissing his pants', and they have a very nice photos and videos to show: http://pussy-riot.livejournal.com.nyud.net/8459.html and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqcmldeC7Ec

After that Red Square performance they were briefly detained by the police and then released. No trial, no conviction, no world outrage... nothing.

So, next time their organisers have chosen another venue to make sure they would get arrested and there would be headlines "Jailed for singing an anti-Putin song"...

Ah busted! I'll have to go report to Putin that my cover has been compromised.

Not that I have to validate my objectivity to you, but I am typing this from a comfortable home in Toronto, Ontario and my paycheques are signed by a B2B publisher for my services rendered as a marketing specialist. It must be too shocking for you to accept that someone might actually have an opinion that doesn't perfectly align with the western media narrative.

Complaining that most people find interesting something that you see as banal, and demanding they protest what you deem significant is not having a contrarian opinion. It's just being innapropiate to this conversation. Posting about the Marinaka Mine Massacre on HN would be more constructive.

Now, blaming all of this on the "western media narrative", a mindset relic of the hawkest hawks of the Cold War, who exaggerate a simple incident of "vandalism" in order to discredit the democratic government of Putin... Yeah, that's a contrarian opinion. Which just happens to be false. Western media simply does not give that much of a fuck now about Rusia. Past protests in Russia about the legitimacy of the elections? Here covered, at most, in passing. The law banning reunions? Don't care. The Pussy Riot incident? It's only on HN's front page because Kasparov was arrested.

I am not demanding that anyone find my observations important or central to the discussion of the pussy riot events. If you want to express condemnation of the sentence or the Russian government in general there are plenty of places for you to do so (including in this HN thread). It just so happens that my post reached enough upvotes that it made it to the top of this thread (democracy and free speech at work, ironically) so it must be something that HN is interested in as well.

You replying to me by telling me that my opinion is inappropriate to the conversation (which I started by the way... there are other conversations below you can express your approval of) is an attempt to censor me. Calling my thought process a relic of the cold war is either an intentional distraction or just naivete on your part.

If you disagree with my opinion about the double standards with which western media handles events from countries whose regimes it approves of and those that it doesn't that's completely fine. But I'd like you to consider a hypothetical incident which I've mentioned below: a few guys walk into a Manhattan synagogue, put Balaklavas over their heads and scream out profanities against Israel and capitalism. Would you really be as outraged if they were carted off to jail and put on some terrorist watch-list.

>It is a classical Russian propaganda defense: answer an accusation on human rights violations with "and you are lynching Negroes" or similar.

Really? Because it's also called "pot calling the kettle black".

Being a "classic defence" doesn't make it wrong.

Even if both sides are equally bad, the accuser is hypocritical on top of that.

>Kremlin is paying bloggers and commenters in Russia to post positive things about authorities:

Do they now?

"There is quite an incredible spread of relationships. You don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are [Central Intelligence] Agency people at the management level." -- William B. Bader, former CIA intelligence officer, briefing members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, The CIA and the Media, by Carl Bernstein

"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." -- William Colby, former CIA Director, quoted by Dave Mcgowan, Derailing Democracy

(it goes far back: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mockingbird )

Noam Chomsky, had a rather simple and brilliant method of calculating how much coverage particular topics got. It's used in manufacturing consent. He or some grad students, collected all column inches related to East Timor and compared against the Khmer Rouge atrocities coverage in Cambodia. They found that the coverage of the atrocities far far outweighed the coverage of the "US supported Indonesian invasion and subjugation of East Timor".

It is this point I feel the parent is making, that the amount of coverage a topic receives is rooted in the propaganda aims of the powers that be and in the biases they wish to instill or are already instilled in the media consuming public.

I am merely commenting on the scale and spin of the reactions to news stories like Pussy Riot and the execution of miners in South Africa (or Gitmo, or US choppers in Iraq indiscriminately gunning down civilians). Instead of joining the chorus of rambling about the corruption of the evil Putin regime based on one out-of-context news story which is clearly being used for PR purposes, I just find it much more interesting to look at the larger narrative which might give me a more complete and more informed picture of the global political landscape. In the same vein I refuse to blindly focus on Obama's birth certificate or the issue of Romney's income taxes. No I am not being paid by the KGB to do this, as someone suggested. It's just critical thinking.

Edit: also by doing this I am not choosing to ignore corruption in Russia. It's clearly there as it is in any country, but there are more serious and more glaring examples of that corruption, albeit not as glamorous or news friendly and digestable.

Edit2: also you need to acquire some more information on that Omahr Khadr case.. it is definitely not as cut-and-dry as you've been led to believe.

From the Wikipedia article on Pussy Riot:

"Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich participated in some Voina performances. Tolokonnikova was part of a performance in which a number of couples were filmed having sex in the Biology Museum in Moscow in 2008."

You can easily find footage of them participating in this orgy. How would you handle such "protesters" that constantly show this kind of behaviour for many years? I guess they would be imprisoned in the US as well.

I would not "handle" them in any way. Why should I "handle" them? There are a lot of people having sex, some of them film that, so what? Who cares about it and how it is related to anything?

If you think people that have sex or film it (provided, of course, we're talking about consenting adults) are imprisoned in the US, you obviously do not know much about US. In the US, to be imprisoned, one has to actually commit a crime and be judged and sentenced, and this happens in independent court which does not jump when the government says "jump!". So please do not guess, because your guess is wrong.

So it is legal to have a public sex orgy in a museum in the US? I honestly didn't know that.

It is not legal, but perpetrators of such acts would be unlikely to receive 3 years in jail.

For example, a NY DJ was caught having public gay sex. He was arrested and sentenced to 12 sessions of counseling.


Fines and short jail sentences are the typical result of such incidents.


Nor did Pussy Riot receive 3 years in jail for that.

This was something they did 4 years ago, and since then they repeatedly broke the law. (other examples: "Samutsevich took part in actions which involved releasing live cockroaches in a court room and kissing policewomen in the Moscow metro and on the streets (which in some cases was seen as attempted assault)")

The sentence for the DJ was perfectly resonable after this misstep, and I hope he didn't have trouble with the police any more after counseling. But imagine what the sentence would look like for him after repeatedly showing such behaviour.

Edit: Actually he did have sex in his car .. doesn't even look like if it was his intent to get caught. Thats a whole different thing and not comparable to having such a performance in a museum in front of 20 news reporters.

In the UK indecent exposure 'with the intent to shock' is punishable up to 2 years imprisonment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indecent_exposure

US courts would deny every witness and every question from the defense in the trial for it. A large portion of the outrage is not from the fact that a law was punished, it was the show-trial nature of the proceeds.

They weren't charged for other incidents.

Yes, that is true. What I wanted to give you with my comment is an insight that this harsh sentence didn't come unexpectedly out of the blue.

Those girls have a long history of such "actions" and what in most civilized countries happens is that you first get fined, then you are maybe arrested and set free on probation, and if you still refuse to conform to a socially (and legally) more acceptable behaviour, you eventually end up in jail.

The same goes for Kasparov. He's been arrested so many times for willfully committing minor offenses, that if he is found to be guilty of biting that officer he'll probably get a sentence near the maximum of 5 years in prison.

Madonna is protesting her collegues---fellow artists being sent to prison on what she thinks are trumped up charges.

Similarly HackerNews goes crazy anytime a developer is treated even the least bit badly by Apple or Google because they're in our In-Group, and its to our self benefit to protest.

The plight of people a world away, who aren't like you.... well it doesn't touch the emotional buttons of many people.

There's a slight difference: Russia has nuclear weapons(1), a dictatorial autocrat, and a desire to be a world power. South Africa is an only slighty out-of-the-ordinary cesspool of corruption.

Of course, all those other things you mentioned are, in isolation, much worse than these recent Russian affairs, and obviously the Western media takes a particular thrill in being putting on the mantle of courageous defender of human rights to condemn a geopolitical rival. But a bunch of workplace strikers being gunned down by an undisciplined police force isn't really indicative of much (as outrageous and terrible as it is), while Russia doubling down on shutting down internal dissent, despite international attention and condemnation, is very, very interesting and worthy of attention.

(1) Yeah, yeah, South Africa stockpiled and proliferated a hundred nukes or so in preparation for a race war. Point still stands.

> a desire to be a world power

With Russia being the primary energy supplier of Western Europe, you might want to think through the desire part a bit better.

It's not. Surprising fact, but Russian gas supply is 6.5% of primary energy in the EU, and Russian oil supply about as much. It is the largest supplier, but not dominant, and can be cut out quickly if needed. Only Slovakia is heavily dependent on Russian energy, the rest can do without in a few years if needed.

Dropping that much supply in price-inelastic fields like energy is a pretty big deal.

With Iran oil embargo, world dropped about as much (in oil) as Russia exports. Did not prove to be a big deal.

My mistake here. Russian oil exports is 2x Iranian.

Poland s also depending on Russian natural gas (primary source of natural gas in Poland)

Poland produces itself over 70% of the primary energy it uses. So it's not much import-dependent at all. But yes, since most of the energy it produces is coal, it imports about 2/3 of the natural gas it uses, and most of that, about 1/2 of the total use, from Russia. Anyways this isn't a big deal since it has sea gasification terminals, and gas market is going global because U.S. needs ways to export lots of cheap natural gas they have. Right now LNG is cheaper than Russian gas.

Did you notice Guantanamo was also mentioned? I guess you are still right in that a dictatorial plutocracy is marginally better.

I don't know, why aren't people even aware of the Second Congo War, which with over 5 million dead is the most deadly war since WWII, and it happened in the last 15 years.

The problem is simply that Africa is just not of interest to Western eyes. Had those miners been gunned down in Belarus, it would have made the wider news.

I wouldn't really hold it against Westerners to care about minor disputes in the nations on their continent because historically those minor disputes used to flare up into wars that affect them and their well being.

Regional wars in other continents don't tend to have the same effect.

It is not in the interest of anyone's eyes. Nobody knows of Second Congo War in Russia, either.


There are more deaths by starvation and malnutrition than by weapons. That explains it. No money involved. Sad but true.

It's not the weapon thing, its the 'in Africa' thing.

A couple of years ago, there was a clash between muslims and christians in Nigeria that left something like 300 dead. It was simply an article in the 'world news' section. In searching for that article, I found one from two months ago where dozens more were killed, so it's still going on without making the headlines (outside of the 'world news' section)


Perhaps another aspect is that the story of "many dead in African incident" is rather common, so it pulls less eyeballs.

There is also sporadic violence in regions of India that barely hit the news. Or Philipinne or Indonesian or Brazilian violence which might make some corner of some news outlet. I think it' just one of those 'it's in a far away land with little presence in the world stage' problem.

Still, the ongoing regional violence in Africa deserves more attention from the world, as their regional military police from the African Union seem either apathetic, powerless or corrupt and only go in at their whim, it would appear.

So Madonna should now comment on anything going over the world? She been to Moscow and SPB, so she expressed what she was thinking about the case which is a significant issue in Russia. Good enough?

Regarding the "vandalism" claim, you are wrong. The three girls have not touched a thing there. At most, they deserved to pay a fine (even according to Russian laws). I suggest you study the facts first before starting another of your ironic passages.

   The organized and overblown reaction to all of this is much more about 
   ruining Russia's reputation as a democratic nation than anything else.
Because there is a political PR campaign going on aimed at shaping public opinion. Its political goals may be noble or may be not, but it feels a bit strange seeing it on HN.

One of Russian Erlang mailing lists recently banned political spam on off-topic grounds. Alas, no such luck with HN.

> for what is basically vandalism by western standards

Singing a song protesting the president and religion in a church is not vandalism, and in many countries would not be considered a crime at all.

In Iceland they would get 2 years for simply insulting a religion group (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech), as well as in many other EU countries (but not in the US).

That's what Pussy Riot have been jailed for - hate speech, not for singing an anti-Putin song. In fact they were screaming profanities in the cathedral, and their anti-Putin song was added later to their YouTube video.

What qualifies as "hate speech"? As far as I understand (I wasn't there), the worst thing they shouted in the cathedral was "holy shit" (literally translated into Russian as "срань господня"). That wasn't any kind of violence rally, and that was mostly political performance, not religious.

  What qualifies as "hate speech"?
I'll give you a UK example (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_the_United_...)

"On 4 March 2010, a jury returned a verdict of guilty against Harry Taylor, who was charged under Part 4A of the Public Order Act 1986. Taylor was charged because he left anti-religious cartoons in the prayer-room of Liverpool's John Lennon Airport on three occasions in 2008. The airport chaplain, who was insulted, offended, and alarmed by the cartoons, called the police.[11][12][13] On 23 April 2010, Judge Charles James of Liverpool Crown Court sentenced Taylor to a six-month term of imprisonment suspended for two years, made him subject to a five-year Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) (which bans him from carrying religiously offensive material in a public place), ordered him to perform 100 hours of unpaid work, and ordered him to pay £250 costs"

Not quite 2 years prison sentence, but a (suspended) jail term nevertheless. But then again, it was not a desecration of a main cathedral either, it was just a cartoon on a wall in an airport prayer room...

Maybe Pussy Riot gives us a case to abolish hate speech laws altogether? So nobody should be threatened with arrest or fine for saying bad things about Muslims, homosexuals, Christians, Jews or whoever, as it is the case now.

Hate speech laws could just be limited to incitement of hatred (what I think was their original intention), i.e. 'Catholics are stupid' vs. 'We should kill all Catholics because they are stupid'.

I'm having a hard time seeing any other interpretation as trying to make offence, a victimless crime, a criminal act.

Here are the actual lyrics of the song performed: http://freepussyriot.org/content/lyrics-songs-pussy-riot

As far as I can see the only words in their which might be seen as trying to inspire 'harm' are 'Virgin Mary, put Putin away'.

The text of the song is irrelevant. Pussy Riot have not been tried for political protest. They were sentenced for 'inciting hatred' against the religion. I suppose their presence in the cathedral next to altar, kicking air and shouting obscenities has offended somebody.

If they have chosen another venue for their anti-Putin song, I guess the prosecution would not have any case against them.

Besides, they did not have time to really sing anything in the cathedral. The sound was added to the YouTube video later.

I think all hate speech laws should be abolished, since there is such a thin line between 'inciting hatred' and 'offending sensitivities'.

In Sweden, we have the Hets mot folkgrupp ("agitation against a people") law which forbids disparaging/threatening comments against ethnic/sexual minorities, and allows jail time for up to 2 years.

Makes you wonder what would've happened to these Pussy Riot clowns should've they picked some Alabama church for their performance.

Nothing? As far as I can tell they went into a church, a public church (though maybe under false pretenses) and performed while being filmed, against the wishes of the people there, and I'm guessing were asked to leave and did not do so. You could come up with crimes in the U.S. for what they did, but convictions wouldn't happen, and anything more than minor legal harassment is unlikely. And if some zealous prosecutor did put forth some effort the defense could and would be robust, and it would take a long time, and it would be very questionable what the outcome would be, with a wide variety of available defenses. The people who end up in jail over stuff that seems minor usually put forward a terrible defense.

People do stuff like this all the time in the U.S. – this is performance art, and no more intrusive or offensive than typical performance art, and those people don't go to jail. And Alabama churches aren't some otherworldly place.

You and I may understand it as performance art but next time you're feeling particularly creative, gather a few of your artsy chums, go into a Manhattan synagogue, put on Balaklavas over your faces and start to scream out profanities against Israel and capitalism. Then proceed to enjoy the hilarity as NYPD hauls you away and FBI puts you on a no-fly list. With both Moscow's and New York's experience with large-scale terrorist attacks I'm not surprised by how jumpy their citizens might be.

There is quite a difference between the US and EU countries with regards to hate speech laws.

A guy in the UK was arrested and given (suspended) jail sentence, a fine and 100 hours of unpaid public labour for leading anti-religious cartoons in an airport prayer room. All because a chaplain felt offended by his cartoons... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_the_United_...

This is actually quite funny: the people behind Pussy Riot campaign now have to explain to Western liberal public why Russian hate speech laws are bad, but European laws that forbid insulting Muslims and homosexuals are good.

Because if Pussy Riot sang their anti-Putin song not in the cathedral, but, say, in the street, they won't get get the press.

I'm not sure if it is fair comparison because there was no place for religion in Soviet Russia.

"As long as there's anything worse than X in the world, you're not allowed to worry about X?"

I mostly agree with what you said.

I very strongly disagree with the use of the phrase "equally unjust." It sounds like false equivalence (unless I misread your comment). The western world largely is better than Russia in matters of freedom of speech/expression. Your comment then segues into conspiracy?

Just to reiterate, I agree with the bulk of your comment, but I felt compelled to comment on your last paragraph.

I was wondering if the reason for all the media coverage was because of the slightly titilating name, the press just went crazy saying pussy because they had a legitimate reason to say it. But the political freedoms really are pretty bad in Russia so I'm OK with it being highlighted. Personally I have plenty of outrage to go around, im not going to run out.

>Why isn't Madonna or these other outraged people protesting over the 32 miners killed in South Africa?

I'm not sure if this is a serious question. They are musicians and entertainers, many with punk roots (Madonna was NY Downtown, which is close enough), some who have been attacked by governments for social statements in their works using "traumatized" members of the public as a proxy. Pussy Riot is a band.

If you're not talking about Madonna, Sting, or any of the musicians that have been keeping this stuff in the news, who are you talking about? Me? It bugs me because the Church, an autocratic regime, and the Russian judicial system have merged to a point where they aren't even tolerating the existence of even trivial, fairly-vapid, middle-class, artsy dissent from a renewed nationalist program - and don't even have the shame to do it in secret, because they feel that enough of the public is behind them that they'll get away with it.

That's scary, and doesn't bode well for the future. It certainly doesn't even get into the ballpark of bugging me as much as Guantanamo. Guantanamo is happening in my country, and is a trampling on of my rights, and my constitution.

Why is it different from striking miners being murdered in South Africa? Because the striking miners weren't gunned down in a courtroom, after months of deliberation, with the support of the majority of the South African public, maybe? Maybe because the aggression of the state in support of capitol against striking workers is a known, and common evil? Maybe because the victims were black working men, not pretty middle-class white women involved in entertainment?

Asking how people can be more concerned about one than the other at this moment seems intentionally obtuse. Some people don't care at all about Pussy Riot, some don't care at all about the miners, some care about both, some care about neither, but the range of completely different concerns raised by each of those situations could be enumerated all day without hint of exhaustion.

Read this book :


and you won't be surprised a bit. Western supposedly "free" media channels operate as expected according to the proposed model.

That's a very interesting way of applying "children are starving in Africa"/appeal to worse problems argument.

why South Africa or omahr khadr, we've had 20k dead in Syria in the past months. Tragedies also in Afghanistan.

It is 2 years.

The tactics of the Putin regime are getting more concerning every day. In case anyone is curious, here's the backstory on the protest Kasparov was attending at the time: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/aug/17/pussy-riot-sente...

[EDIT] Here's a link to the BBC for background, for those that don't like the Guardian: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19302986

Quite amusing to see the word "regime" used so casually and self-righteously. As much as you may dislike Putin, I bet he's got more popular votes than Obama did, just visit an average Russian town 50 miles outside of Moscow and ask around.

As a Russian I know first hand things aren't rosy, but they aren't so simplistic and cartoonishly evil as western media and comments on HN portray.

As a Russian, I think you're full of shit. It's not about the votes (officially, Putin got 46 million votes; Obama got 69 million). It's about the harassment, media manipulation, gutting of the judiciary, vote rigging, and now, terror.

In the long run, the terror may be something of a good thing: it may hasten Putin's demise. In the short run, he has squandered the last of the opportunities that the Soviet industrial and technological base had given him.

And it's not that he always was evil: until 2002, he legitimately did a good job of strengthening the state when it was weak and reeling from Chechnya. But then he never stopped.

It's about the harassment, media manipulation, gutting of the judiciary, vote rigging, and now, terror.

I seriously couldn't tell: are you talking about Russia or the US here...?

Not sure about the downvotes... But my point stands: As an American, these seem to be common political tactics here too. If GP doesn't want to compare Putin and Obama on votes, I'd appreciate a point-by-point breakdown along these axes.

This is a puzzling comment which makes me wonder about your perception of both the US and Russia.

Can you really imagine a punk rock band in the US getting two years in prison (a felony in any state in the US) for a stunt like Pussy Riot pulled, involving absolutely no property damage or physical harm? Or journalists critical of the regime being assassinated pretty frequently (with little hope of those murders ever being solved)? Or gay protesters being beaten in the streets?

Where are you living in the US that the exercise of government power seems somehow similar to all that?

> I seriously couldn't tell: are you talking about Russia or the US here...?

Let me answer for him: "Yes"

Russia's population is a 1/3 of the US. Why would you use the # of votes as an absolute?

Because the person he was replying to framed it that way.

Stalin was quite popular as well. What does popularity have to do with respecting basic human rights?

No, Putin isn't cartoonishly evil. In reality, he's actually quite nice when compared to the historical norm. Getting the shit beaten out of you or getting a few years in jail is actually kinda mild when you review the last 100 years in the motherland.

That's really not the point, anyway. Most of the negativity about Putin comes out from dissapointment. Most in the West actually thought Russia would change and would join the party.

And as a Russian I think you better shut up in this case.

Things are'nt rosy for Putin indeed. And they're not as simplistic. I guess to make them simpler he got himself back in the office by rigging the vote and then by beating and arresting those who protest, Kasparov included?

And can I ask you something as a lover of irony: do you think he should shut up because he doesn't seem to value free-speech as much as you do?

No, because what he said was a lie. And he knows it.

> And he knows it.

Ahhr... you caught me! I am being paid by the KGB for deliberately spreading misinformation on the Internet, recruit boy scouts into the Komsomol and paint Ulysses Grant's beard in black to make him look like Karl Marx on every $50 bill I get a hold of.

Paid or not, you do know that it's not possible to compare Obama and Putin in terms of popularity. Putin has been covered by all major channels in Russia exclusively for last 12 years, every single day. It's also not possible technically because he made a mockery of the elections process, and even then had to rig the vote. You also know that your claim about his popularity among Russians outside of Moscow is bogus but hardly verifiable to most people on HN: but he's just as disliked there as he is in Moscow. Don't portray Russian people as fools: they are not. And your talk about things not being so simple: how familiar. They are simple, my friend: Putin violated Russia's own laws including the Constitution, when he ran for the 3rd time, and he should not be the president, no matter how big you think his popularity is. He wants to rule forever? He will end up as a dictator. Simple as that.

Look, my friend, you cannot deny that Russians overwhelmingly voted for Putin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_presidential_election,_...

He got 64% of the total vote (45 million people). His closest opponent was a communist with 17%.

Now, how much votes did Putin steal? 10%? That would still leave him with twice as much votes as his next opponent. He'd still have the people's mandate.

It is quite possible that you do not like the choice of the majority of Russian people. But if you cannot accept result of a democratic election then you should not be making statements about Constitution and the law.

Look my friend, a guy in North Korea gets 100% of the vote. And Russia's poor friend Saddam Hussein got 99.9% on the most recent presidential "elections" he held. Putin, after 12 years of ceaseless propaganda should be ashamed to get the miserable 64% (of those rigged) votes. How much he stole does not really matter. He stole the election process itself. And he violated Russia's own Constitution by running for the 3rd time. Just like some of his comrade dictators. His gotcha moment. Welcome to the club!

P.S. Calling those "elections" democratic tells the whole story about you. Yes, you. They was nothing democratic about them, my Kremlin paid buddy.

So, you say Russia is another North Korea? And anyone who disagrees with you is paid by Kremlin?

With opposition so bright, no wonder why Putin gets elected.

Anyone who knowing enough facts calls what happened earlier this year and back in December 2011 "democratic elections" is, in my opinion, being paid by the Kremlin. You are being paid by the Kremlin.

Putin should feel humiliated when he meets his North Korean friend Kim (err.. what's his name?) next time, for getting his officially announced miserable 64%.

  You are being paid by the Kremlin
Yep. I registered this HN account five years ago especially to wait for your comments. And my real name is Anna Chapman.

I appreciate your confession.

if you cannot accept result of a democratic election then you should not be making statements about Constitution and the law.

Nah, it's exactly the other way around. I see you did not address this at all:

Putin violated Russia's own laws including the Constitution, when he ran for the 3rd time, and he should not be the president, no matter how big you think his popularity is.

Russian Constitution forbids two consecutive terms. Putin served two, then endorsed his close associate for the presidency. The associated gets elected, serves a term, then steps aside. Putin runs again, and gets elected for the third term, but not a third consecutive term.

For many this looks like twisting the law, but Putin is genuinely popular among common people so most people are kind of happy he found a legal way around the limitations.

They are not "cartoonishly" evil. They are really evil. The elections were stolen, and everybody - including in Russia - knows it. Some think it's OK because "Putin is stability" but nobody thinks there is anything like free elections or democracy there. Nobody knows how many popular votes Putin got - exactly because he did not allow to count the votes fairly.

But it's not only stealing elections. It's also completely destroying judicial system - again, nobody believes there's such thing as independent judiciary anymore in Russia, it is jailing political opponents, it is stealing millions of dollars from the budget... Yes, things "aren't rosy". But I'd seriously suggest you to wake up and smell the roses, because the real evil is already there. And if history teaches us anything, it'll get much worse before it gets better. Russia has a history of leaders who imprisoned their political opponents. Nothing good came out of it, not once.

  Nobody knows how many popular votes Putin got - exactly because 
  he did not allow to count the votes fairly.
Not many dispute Putin's personal election results, even the opposition. The parlamentary elections before that -- is another matter, they were substantially rigged in favour of the pro-government party.

And let me correct you -- 63% of the Russian voters who have voted for Putin believe that they live under democracy, and are very happy that their votes count and their candidate has won.

What are you talking about - of course many dispute it! There were mass protests about the election results, and multiple proven cases of fraud - which, of course, were never prosecuted due to absence of independent judiciary.

Again, quoting official results in obviously and proven rigged elections as evidence of "voters who have voted for Putin" is just disingenuous - do you really believe anybody would be swayed by the argument "Putin won elections because Putin says so"?

Also, the democracy is not only when majority wins. It is also when the rights of everybody are respected. Even if Putin had won the majority vote - which we do not know since there was no free and fair election - it would not absolve him from responsibility to preserve the rights of every citizen - including those who oppose him. That is clearly not happening.

There were no mass protests after Putin election results. You can check for yourself http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011%E2%80%932012_Russian_prote...

There were 25 thousand people protesting in Moscow Pushking square immediately after his re-election on March 5, 2012. No major regional protests reported. Moscow has 11 million inhabitants, so 0.02% of them were protesting. I would not call them 'mass protests'.

In contrast, the protests about cases of fraud during Parliament elections rally on Bolotnaya square in December 2011 brought 60 thousand protesters in one day, and many more rallies have been reported throughout Russia.

On tens of March (I quote) "Another 'For Fair Elections' protest was staged on the Novy Arbat street in Moscow. A permit was issued for 50,000,... but just 25,000 thousand came according to the organisers and 10,000 according to the police. The mood was downbeat after Putin won an absolute majority everywhere but Moscow where he garnered 46.95% of the vote. Sergei Udaltsov of Left Front, called for a massive demonstration 1 May, but no further protests are scheduled".

The problem is: the other 40% were screwed again -- the same 40% were screwed on every russian presidential elections ever. There were no elections with "unorthodox" result -- there is no choice. The lack of choice and circulation hurts the credibility of the regime.

A Russian friend of mine reminds me that the things Putin does to show his manliness (like riding barechested through the woods and going on bear hunts) are just as ridiculous to Russians as they would be to us if our own politicians did the same.

Sorry, but why is it taken for granted that The Guardian is telling the truth about everything?

Do you have any suspicions about this particular article, or is it just a generic/offtopic attack on a newspaper you don't like? It seems to just be reporting fairly basic facts.

These major "news" outlets got their information on Syria all from one guy who sat in his apartment in London. How can we grant them credibility?

Also, here's a link to an article that actually draws from a Russian article. http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2012/07/31/what-do-...

Good to get some news about Russia from something that isn't a conglomerate of media corps that is funded/protected by political interests that have a bone to pick with the current Russian regime. ;) (that is, news from russia)

You completely failed to address his question. The article made no large claims?

And the article you linked points to numbers saying that the large majority (74%) of Russians say the punishment should be "time served" (or, "let them serve a few months, starting from their arrest on May 6th"). And 63% say less than that. Only 26% of people thought they should be imprisoned longer. I honestly think you'd find people in the US that would this kind of punishment if you threw a punk rock protest in the middle of a large church.

So while it seems like you're suggesting (without saying anything) that the idea that these people shouldn't be kept in prison is some Western pushed ideology in some attempt to unseat Putin or attack his legitimacy... It's a pretty common opinion. Held by the majority of Russians.

At least, that's what your linked article said...

(And that's not even taking up my issue with Forbes.)

So 137% say a few months or less?

I should've said "time served, or less". Forgive my egregious error.

Oh, hadn't you heard? There was a memo. New policy, started today, just after tea.

Garry was famously beaten by another machine in 1997.

The most intriguing part of this affair to me has been the revelations of the patriarchy as basically tools of the KGB and now Putin. The airbrushed out $30K watch that bloggers found the reflection of. Wild stuff. Not that we don't have our share of corrupt clergy in the US but that the story we've always been told was of how the Russian church was oppressed and quietly waited out the evil Socialist overlords.


his predecessor:


influential people get corrupted, film at eleven.

Kasparov is a totally manufactured 'Russian opposition' figure.

As late as 2004 he was a member of a US "Security Advisory Council" (NSAC). It was funny to see Kasparov's name on the website under the slogan: "Advisory Council members have dedicated their careers to American security", right next to assistant Secretary of Defence http://img717.imageshack.us.nyud.net/img717/1337/kasparov.jp...

I respect his anti-Putin views, and his chess achievements, but how exactly can he make a political career in Russia with such a background?

His current role is to get beaten occasionally by the police and to remind Western audience that Russian president is evil.

> His current role is to get beaten occasionally by the police and to remind Western audience that Russian president is evil.

Maybe so. I for one have been reminded that the Russian president is evil.

Karsparov has a history of staging or attending protests and getting arrested. After his chess career ended he has been trying to reinvent himself as a "people's champion" and "pro-democracy" leader. So far this has mostly amounted to him getting marginalized and beaten up by police.

That's because his only support is outside of Russia. He's just a nuisance at most.

Is your paycheck issued by the Russian government?

That's truth. In Russia we do not have normal opposition.

Nemtsov - unpopular because of his past, Limonov - too radical, Kasparov - is just a clown.

One fragment from a BBC documentary by Adam Curtis explains rather well the mechanics of current Russian pro-democracy campaign in the Western media. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v...

The video deals with PR guru Edward Bernays work for his client, a United Fruit Company (UFCO). When a newly elected Guatemala president Jacobo Árbenz threatened to nationalize UFCO's plantations, Bernays engineered a campaign to turn the popularly elected president doing hugely popular things for his people, into a threat to democratic values and a communist with links to Moscow.

In reality, Arbenz was no communist and no dictator, as the documentary points out. But Bernays has set up a shell American press agency which bombarded US media with reports about alleged freedom violations in Guatemala. Bernays has also apparently organised a few violent anti-US actions in Guatemala to support his thesis.

As a result, president Arbenz was ousted in a coup and replaced with a proper dictator, which was generally viewed as a good thing by the freedom-loving public in the US. Interestingly, the whole time the United Fruit Company has been kept out of the picture, even through it was paying for the campaign.

The whole BBC documentary http://centuryself.blogspot.com/ is quite interesting.

So you're saying Western media invented the 2 year sentence and in fact nothing like that happened? There are no freedom violations in Russia and only reason why such reports appear is because some corporations want to take over Russia? Or what that Guatemala example has to do with Russia and Putin?

Pussy Riot performance looks like a planned provocation.

There are many ways to get yourself arrested, if you really want to. In Europe, you can get jail for hate speech, for example, (though not in the US, where it is constitutionally protected) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech

Don't forget, Pussy Riot have been jailed not for singing an anti-Putin song, but for inciting religious hatred. They were screaming profanities in the cathedral. (They didn't sing in the church, had no time, they were removed after 40s, the song about Putin was added later to their YouTube video).

Please do not bullshit me. They were jailed for singling anti-Putin and anti-Church song, and everybody knows that. The official charge was "inciting religious hatred", but nobody in his sane mind can see any trace of religious hatred anywhere near there, they did not try to incite any religious hatred, did not incite any religious hatred and nobody ever believed they tried to incite any religious hatred.

Of course they had it planned, and of course it was a "provocation". In sane countries, such "provocations" - public performances aimed at focusing public attention on important public issues - are called demonstrations, and it is a regular part of public discourse. Rosa Park's actions were "planned provocation". Martin Luther King made "planned provocations". People that went to the Red Square in 1968 to protest Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia made a "planned provocation". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Red_Square_demonstration

Since the official Church in Russia is not only completely united with the state, despite formal separation of church and state, but also enjoys multiple benefits of such arrangement, both pecuniary and otherwise, it also is a legitimate target for protest.

As for "screaming profanities in the cathedral" - this is factually incorrect, they did not. But even if they did, it is not a criminal offense - causing somebody a mild butthurt is not a crime warranting imprisonment.

Your comment of "there are many ways to get yourself arrested" is classical case of blaming the victim - if they just would shut up and gave up their rights and freedoms as other good boys and girls did, nothing would happen. Probably so. But some people are not OK with their freedoms taken away. Some protest. Putting a blame on them for "provoking" oh so innocent regime into locking them up for 2 years is disingenuous at best.

  "screaming profanities in the cathedral" - this is 
  factually incorrect, they did not.
BBC thinks otherwise, reporting on "Their brief, obscenity-laced performance" http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19297373

Listen, I am actually against hate speech laws everywhere, including Europe, and I believe the church has no place in the modern state.

But I fail to see any Putin connection in Pussy Riot arrest and their jail time. Pussy Riot got jailed for hate speech. That's a fact. Any Putin association is a result of a well executed PR campaign. Everybody knows that... ))

>Everybody knows that.

I don't think they do.

I know a lot of people believe Putin saved Russia, but I gotta say, having the same people in power for too long is never a good thing: they get comfortable, they lose their focus, things get stagnant and everything goes downhill from there.

There's a reason why the US does not allow the same person to be president more than twice in their life (although that doesn't stop them from putting someone they trust in power).

Would you have someone with a vested interest in the country running it, or someone who gets elected, steals from the country and runs off without consequence after 8 years? ;)

Is there any particular reason you believe Russia is unable to elect someone who doesn't steal from the country and is also not a borderline autocrat? I know the track record isn't great, but I'm curious if you reckon that's inherent.

Seems like it's inherent to me, and I really can't describe why. It just seems that in terms of internal politics, Russia has always been very dark and bleak. :(

Well in that case, why not just have the tsars back. Because that worked out so splendidly well for russia last time, now didn't it.

Compare the Tsars to what came after the Tsars and since the Tsars. :)

I guess you prefer having someone who does not get elected and steals for 24 years in a row better?

U.S. didn't have such a regulation until the 50s, before that it was merely tradition.

They put it there because many people got scared of a president staying for too long after Franklin Delano Roosevelt had won its fourth presidential term. They wanted to prevent a president from becoming a dictator.

I am convinced that the reason most democracies have limited terms of presidency is because if one elected official can't be bought then the next one will be (or in the case of US elections - they ALL get bought!) This is why voting for people is bullshit (in my opinion). The government should be a bunch of invisible (but accountable) professionals academically trained in governance, laws, finances, foreign policy...etc with the only mandate to lead a succesful socially and globally responsible country. But if you really want to get all democratic about it, the "people" should vote on very broad issues to determine the intellectual values and the future direction of the country.

I.e. china?

Chinese people don't vote on issues.

This sounds more like Switzerland.

The problem with academics is that all of their knowledge is theory, they have no practical experience. I think you should only be able to spend a maximum 1 year in government, you should not be able to make a career out of working in government.

i think your reasoning here is kinda backwards: "To do a good job in government, you need experience. Therefore, you should only be allowed to work at it for one year."

An electrician also needs a lot of experience before he can be good at his job. But he doesn't get a max of one year to accomplish mastery. He can shadow an experienced master electrician in an apprenticeship role for years before he actually takes charge.

Single term limits might help.

Kasparov's political role is interesting. He's been a thorn in the regime's side for some years now, but has only been moderately harassed. Not entirely sure why; perhaps the cost/benefit analysis of how much they fear him (probably not greatly) versus how much negative PR they get from going after him.

The Russian regime is too busy doing things that are important for Russia. Kasparov is a piece for the western media outlets to focus on as a political victim, while he's very unimportant in Russia and amongst Russians.

If he was a real problem, they would have put him down by now. If they didn't allow protests, they would be cracking skulls.

s/doing things that are important for Russia/stealing as much money as they can and putting them into offshore accounts/

Fixed that for you.

So you are saying he must be unpopular or unimportant because he hasn't been put down for causing problems to the state? If you think all the popular and important people are dead, then you really hold very little hope for the living.


I'm saying that if Russia was oppressive as people are making it out to be, he would be silenced by now.

I present 4 possibilities: 1) If he was important and silenced, the claim that Russia is oppressive would hold. 2) If he is not silenced and important, there would be support for him within his own country, but then the country wouldn't be as oppressive as people make it out to be since he hasn't been silenced. 3) If he is silenced and unimportant, we would hear little to nothing of him. 4) If he is not silenced and unimportant, then he has a chance at getting attention from our news outlets that are always looking for an excuse to paint something has a humanitarian crisis as a pretext for war.

Number 2) doesn't survive the barest comparison with history, as if it were true then there would never be political revolutions in oppressive cultures.

Cultures and regimes are different, and this hits the nail on the head. The regime isn't oppressive by Russian standards. But by western standards, it is.

As a Russian, I can assure you that it is, in my mind and in the minds of the educated people I know.

What's Kasparov's status like with the people? Is he a kind of star or folk hero from the old chess days? Or has he been marginalized?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Man-Without-Face-Unlikely/dp/15944... discusses it in great length.

Whenever he shows up, the venues seem to be either cancelled outright or suffer from all sorts of electrical and infrastructure problems all of a sudden. Couple of times he chose to take his message to the people outside the closed venue, he was egged, with police preventing his followers from chasing the perpetrators. Of course, those are also the images that TV stations choose display whenever mentioning Kasparov in passing.

When you control the media, it's easy to hand-pick quotes and stock photos to portray even the most eloquent and intellectual speaker as crazy bum who's shouting in public places to gain self-promotion.

What about his internet presence?

Nobody cares about Kasparov. That is his status now and always been.

I don't know why this is downvoted as it's actually true. Kasparov was that great chess player who had a long battle with Karpov [1] and eventually won. Then for some reason he decided to abandon chess and go into politics instead. At that point he became uninteresting.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatoly_Karpov

It's sad that people now remember Kasparov as "that guy who defeated Karpov", because he'd been absolute best in chess for a long time. It's actually even sadder that he dropped chess over politics altogether.

I'd say marginalized. Current crop of "folk heroes" now are mostly non-political figures turned politicians: corruption fighter Navalny, writers Bykov, Akunin and so on. Older politicians like Yavlinsky had their chance and failed spectacularly so their support is fairly limited. If you want to know the most influential political figure from Russian opposition, that's Navalny without doubt.

He's been ridiculed and ignored by the very same regime for as long as he was a supposed thorn in its side. Here's one example - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbnySBqioB0 - a flying penis incident.

All in all, Kasparov has an incredible brain that, regrettably, peaked in its performance and application when he was a chess player. I left Russia over 10 years ago (meaning that I've spent most of my adult life in the Western world), and yet even when I was there it was bloody obvious that Kasparov was on the US payroll. The fact that a smart and practical person like him continued on the same path only cements my impression.

I think that's exactly what's going on. They were hoping if they just ignored him people would eventually lose interest. Since that hasn't happened it's on to plan B.

Here in the US, the mainstream media has been showing clips of the protests, including footage of Kasporov being arrested, but not identifying him. I had to do a double-take (I used to play chess a lot). I was 99.9% sure it was him. I hope he is treated humanely by the police.

> I hope he is treated humanely by the police. Russian police can be very brutal, here is the video of Kasparov being arrested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf55YyMC6qk He is put into police bus, and then you can hear him screaming: "What are you doing?!" and "Aaaay"(not sure if it is transliterated correctly).

I've read some blog post(from an activist who was in the same bus) pointing that he was actually beaten.

There's an awful lot of throwaway comments claiming that Kasparov is given undue coverage by the western media.

Linking to some sort of actual analysis of this might be interesting; littering the threads with multiple repetitions of this as a fact is not.

here is a Reuter's quote: "Kasparov and his Other Russia dissident movement are not standing in Sunday's parliamentary election because they could not get registered as a party. They enjoy little public support among Russians but have a big following in the West." Taken from: http://in.reuters.com/article/2007/12/02/idINIndia-307909200...


"And a final word on Garry Kasparov

On Sunday, while Putin's party "United Russia" was screeching to a landslide victory, Reuters News was busy taking mug-shots of the stony-faced Kasparov holding up Florida-style ballots claiming the voting was rigged. "They are not just rigging the vote," Kasparov moaned, "They are raping the whole electoral system. These elections are a reminder of Soviet elections when there was no choice.....Putin is going to have a hard time trying to rule like Stalin."

Stalin? So now Putin is Stalin? First of all, when did Reuters begin to take such a keen interest in voting irregularities? It must be a recent development, becuase they were nowhere to be found in the 2000 presidential election. And when did they start to pay attention to "political dissent"? They certainly never wasted any video-footage on the antiwar rallies in the US. Are we to believe that they are more interested in democracy in Russia than America?

And why is Reuters so eager to provide valuable column-space to a washed-up chessmaster who's only interested in making a nuisance of himself by bellyaching about voter fraud? That's not news; it's propaganda." From article dated December 05, 2007 Why the Council on Foreign Relations Hates Putin Why Murdoch’s Journal Loves Kasparov

Humanity is truly lost when a band named Pussy Riot can upset an entire government.

This is in fact good news. Things like that keeps Russia repelling talented people. It will ensure divestment of Russia of talent, and generation ahead it will be like big North Korea - country of destitute, drunk peasants - rather than like Iran - well-educated, agressive and strong. At least it will be safe for the outside world.

some startup's recrutiment bus with a 'Go work in sunny and democratic California' slogan, would have looked interesting nearby Khamovnichesky court

it is hard to see the truth if you grew up in the Western world and take a lot of freedoms for granted. What the "sipping cappuccino in the safety of Starbucks" crowd(i.e. most of you) fails to see is that the trial and sentencing is not about the girls or what they did or how the same act would've been treated elsewhere. It was about showing that in this land of arrogant and righteous thieves any hope for fair justice is lost.

I am surprised by the fact that there were no news about Pussy Riot getting jail time for dancing in balaclavas in the church, Quinisext Council (692 A.D.) being cited in court in 2012, but instead there is an article about Kasparov arrested by police. Oh wow. Don't worry about the guy, he'll be released in 15 days tops.

Not that I think that any of this should be on HN front page.

Kasparov made a gambit, and finally Russia has bitten. Next move is Kasparov's.

How hard is it to verify a brutal beating? Bruises at least, right?

TIL naming your band Pussy Riot can keep you out of jail.

Did you mean the other way round? They got jail time.

>"Breaking news! Corruption and totalitarianism of the Russian government, KGB and orthodox church exposed by the unimaginable injustice dealt to the members of the Pussy Riot and undisputed chess champion Gary Kasparov"

How about: undisputed chess champion Gary Kasparov also double-times as a champion of a certain western power's interests in Russia and goes around challenging the democratically elected government that has a huge popular vote behind it?

The same western powers that want some idiot controllable puppet running Russia, and pretend that their issue is with Putin's "cronyism" and "corruption" (because, stuff like multi-billion war contracts to friends under Bush, or the trillion dollar financial firm bailout, or all the laws passed in favor of this or that lobby, are not cronyism/corruption).

Strange how little the same western powers and their mass media protest the Assange situation.

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